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Know Your Potter

So you've never been enticed to read about Harry Potter and his adventures before this? We're glad that you've finally come to your senses. You are about to embark on a great journey. Come along, and let's take a peek at the world that exists right next to our own. The world of Harry Potter.

In essence, the Harry Potter books tell a tale that is twofold: a boy coming of age into young manhood and the power of good versus that of evil. Harry's story entwines the former journey with the latter struggle and, along the way, envelops readers in a universe all its own.

The story begins with mysterious happenings all over London and the world. Large numbers of owls are sighted all over England, as well as strangely dressed people celebrating uproariously.

All of these odd happenings center on one person --- a baby, a one-year-old boy with a lightning-bolt scar on his forehead, deposited on a nondescript suburban London doorstep by three very unusual people: an elderly man who appears to have the ability to suck the electricity from the street lights; a slightly younger woman who seems to have turned from a tabby cat into a person; and an individual defying human proportions, twice as tall as any man, who arrives on a flying motorcycle. They seem suspiciously like, well, wizards.

But it's not these three people who are the most interesting to readers. It is that tiny child, sleeping in a basket; for apparently he has survived the impossible and has banished one of the most evil men of all times: Voldemort, or "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named."

When we first meet the boy that baby has become --- bespectacled, skinny, small for his age, black-haired and green-eyed --- Harry is an orphan, living with his strict and unkind Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon, and their spoiled son, Dudley.

Dudley is the same age as Harry but lives a very different life. While Harry is treated barely better than a servant by his aunt and uncle, Dudley is showered with gifts and food and allowed whatever his heart desires, which includes making Harry's life miserable. Needless to say, the boys are NOT the best of friends. In fact, due to Dudley's bullying of their schoolmates, Harry has spent his life basically friendless.

Then --- right before his 11th birthday --- everything in Harry's life changes. Enormous quantities of mail start arriving for him, delivered by various owls. All of these are from a place called "Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry." Whatever that is. His buttoned-up aunt and uncle are severely displeased by this turn of events and try to keep Harry from opening up the mail, which is rightfully his.

The truth finally comes to Harry in the giant form of Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts. Hagrid, who becomes Harry's first friend, tells Harry that, unlike what his aunt and uncle told him, his parents didn't die in a car crash. They were killed by the most evil wizard of all time, Lord Voldemort. Voldemort is also responsible for the unique scar on Harry's forehead --- the remains of a terrible curse he attempted to put on baby Harry, who, for some reason, survived the night his parents were killed. This has made Harry famous in the wizarding world.

Hagrid comes to guide Harry into that world, where he rightfully belongs. He has come to take him to Hogwarts, where he will study and learn magic. Many adventures wait for Harry at Hogwarts: he meets and makes great friends in Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger; he finds athletic success playing Quidditch, a wizarding game that is, as Ron puts it, "the best game in the whole world"; he creates new grudges and stirs up old ones in Draco Malfoy and Professor Severus Snape, respectively; he benefits from the guidance of Hogwarts' Headmaster, the great and kind Albus Dumbledore; and he even has his first kiss.

In many ways, Harry lives like a normal young man growing up --- with one exception. Harry learns that Voldemort, far from being destroyed all those years ago, is once again rising to power. And that is Harry's real story --- the story of an upright, brave boy facing down pure evil. Will Harry destroy Voldemort? Will peace be restored to the wizarding world at long last?

We'll soon find out in the final book of Harry's tale, HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS.

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CeReality: 5 Families, 5 Stories, 1 Critical Meal

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